Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Cross-sectional evolution of the U.S. city size distribution

By Henry G. Overman and Yannis Menelaos Ioannides

Abstract

We report nonparametrically estimated nonlinear stochastic transition kernels for the evolution of the distribution of populations of metropolitan areas, for the period 1900 to 1990, based on US Census data. Comparison of kernels across successive time periods with the kernel for a pooled sample suggests a fair amount of uniformity in the patterns of mobility during the study period. The distribution of city sizes is predominantely characterised by persistence. Comparison of the kernel for the pooled sample with the kernel for city sizes relative to their own regional average does not reveal any stark differences in intra-region mobility patterns. We then develop measures that allow us to characterise the nature of intra-distribution dynamics for the city size distribution: one is the first-order "serial" (across the ranking) correlation coefficient of the differences in relative sizes of cities with successive rankings; the second is the mean squared variation of the differences in relative sizes of cities with successive rankings. These measures have the major advantages that they do not require discretization of the city size distribution, nor do they obscure subtle changes within the distribution. We employ these measures to study the degree of mobility within the US city size distribution and, separately, within regional and urban subsystems. We find that different regions show different degrees of intra-distribution mobility. In addition, in contrast to received wisdom, second-tier cities show more mobility than top-tier cities

Topics: G Geography (General), HB Economic Theory
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1006/juec.2000.2204
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:584
Provided by: LSE Research Online
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/584/1... (external link)
  • http://www.elsevier.com/locate... (external link)
  • http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/584/ (external link)
  • Suggested articles

    Citations

    1. (1993). An Explanatory Model of the City-Size Distribution: Evidence from Cross-country Data," doi
    2. (1997). Cities and Growth: Theory and Evidence from France and Japan," doi
    3. (1961). City Size Distributions and Economic Development," doi
    4. (1994). Convergencia Economica entre las Provincias Espanolas: Evidencia Empirica (1955{1989), Monedo y Credito,
    5. (1971). Curve Estimates," doi
    6. (1913). Das Gesetz der Bev¨ olkerungskonzentration,"
    7. (1913). Das Gesetz der Bevo¨lkerungskonzentration,"
    8. (1997). Economic Integration and Convergence: U.S. Regions, 1840{1987," doi
    9. (1993). Empirical Cross-section Dynamics and Economic Growth," doi
    10. (1999). Empirical Studies on the Location of Economic Activity and its Consequences,
    11. (1949). Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort, doi
    12. (1949). Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Eort, doi
    13. (1999). Ioannides doi
    14. (1982). National City Size Distributions: What Do we Know after 67 Years of Research,"
    15. (1985). Nonparametric Density Estimation, Prediction, and Regression for Markov Sequences," doi
    16. (1955). On a Class of Skew Distribution Functions," doi
    17. (1999). On The Evolution of Hierarchical Urban Systems," doi
    18. (1953). Population Growth in Standard Metropolitan Areas 1900-1950,
    19. (1953). Population Growth in Standard Metropolitan Areas 1900-1950,O x f o r d , Ohio: Scripps Foundation in Research in Population Problems.
    20. (1997). Regional Cohesion from Local Isolated Actions: Historical Outcomes," Discussion paper 378, Centre for Economic Policy Research,
    21. (1998). Spatial Interactions among U.S. Cities," presented at the Econometric Society meetings, doi
    22. (1954). The `courbe des populations:' a Further Analysis,"
    23. (1954). The ‘courbe des populations:’ a Further Analysis,"
    24. (1996). The Self-Organizing Economy, doi
    25. (1980). The Size Distribution of Cities: an Examination of the Pareto Law and Primacy," doi
    26. (1999). The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions and International Trade, doi
    27. (1999). Trends in Sizes and Structure of Urban Areas," doi
    28. (1999). Urban Development in the United States, 1690{1990," doi
    29. (1999). Urban Evolution in the USA," processed, London School of Economics.
    30. (1994). Urbanization: An Introduction to Urban Geography,
    31. (1999). Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," doi
    32. (1999). Zipf’s Law for Cities: An Explanation," doi

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.